Identity In Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery And Isaac Babel’s My First Goose

2100 words - 9 pages

Although the concept of identity is recurrent in our daily lives, it has interpreted in various ways. In general, identity means how one sees himself/herself and others around in order to distinguish himself/herself as different. David Snow differentiates between the ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ identity as “personal identities are the attributes and meaning attributed to oneself by the actor, they are self-designations and self-attributions regarded as personally distinctive.” (Snow 2) On the other hand, the “collective identities attributed or imputed to others in an attempt to situate them in social space. They are grounded in established social roles.”(Snow 2) This research paper aims at examining the role of ‘collective’ identity that is formed on the expenses of the ‘individual’ identity and how this leads to physical and psychological repression in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Isaac Babel’s “My First Goose.”
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson opens on a warm June day in unnamed village where people are waiting for the annual event which is the lottery. This ‘tradition’ is also held in other surrounding towns for a long time. Everyone in the town, including the children, participates in this event, yet not all of them are satisfied about it. Meanwhile some people show their dissatisfaction, yet they are unable to criticize this act directly. During the process of the lottery, which does not take more than couple of hours, some of the characters such as Mrs. Dunbar , Mr. and Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Hutchinson question the lottery, yet they are not voicing their protest clearly. This vagueness in showing dissatisfaction is related to the idea that most of the people in the town are accepting this ‘outdated’ tradition without questioning it and even more no one dares to suggest giving up this ‘ritual’, for anyone who goes against the public will be subject to criticism as well as doubts and this will make him/her unwelcomed and furthermore marginalized.
The central conflict in the story is the lottery itself where the ‘winner’ will be stoned and this brutal and outdated ritual is accepted without protesting by the people in the town and other towns as well . In “The Lottery,” it is clear how people instead of being vocal by voicing their opinions and critique regarding the prominent issues of their town, they are willing to sacrifice their ‘individual’ identities by following the ‘crowd’ or the ‘main stream’. Moreover, they are able to share the sense of ‘we-ness’ and ‘collectivism’ on the expenses of one’s individual and personal identity, regardless the inner conflict and the fragmentation that they are left with. On the other hand, some of the characters as mentioned above are still aware of their ‘personal’ identity and they are able to present their points of view even though they are presenting them as they ‘hear’ instead of presenting these attitudes as they are truly ‘think’ and ‘believe’ in them . During the...

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